An Abuja Federal High Court under Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has ordered the office of the Chief of Army Staff to pay the sum of N11 million to eleven youths from Gombe State illegally detained by the Nigerian Army.

The eleven youths through their lawyer, PO Okolo (SAN), had in a 23-paragraph affidavit by Lewi Mato of Anguwan Kwal Kwalli, Billiri LGA of Gombe State, alleged that their arrest and detention following the killing of one David Jauro Stephen was a breach to their fundamental human rights guaranteed in the constitution of Nigeria.

It was averred that on the 6th day of July 2018, the deceased went to the farm with one Yerimma Karamata where they were attacked by persons from the neighbouring village of Shongom. Yerimma ran home to inform the others but on getting back to the farm; they discovered that the said David Jauro was dead.

They were in the process of taking his body home when they were arrested by agents of the respondent and taken to the Gombe Army barracks. There, they were detained and tortured, flogged mercilessly with sticks on the allegation that they were on a repraisal mission. They denied this accusation but it fell on deaf ears.

The court was urged to redress the wrong as they have suffered serious emotional and psychological trauma.

A copy of the Judgment signed by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on 14th August, 2018 also ordered the office of the Chief of Army Staff to release forthwith or charge the youths before a court of competent jurisdiction should their investigation reveal prima facie evidence of having committed the offence to which they were detained.

In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/777/2018 filed by the eleven applicants against the Chief of Army Staffa and the Attorney General of the Federation as respondents, the youths in a five point prayer sought the court to declare their arrest, detention and torture by the Nigerian Army as illegal and unconstitutional as it violates their fundamental rights guaranteed under section 34,35,36 and 41 of the 1999 constitution.

They also prayed the court to direct the authorities of the Nigerian Army to immediately release the applicants or charge them to court should they be seen to have likely committed any offence; an order of injunction restraining the respondents from further arresting and harassing the applicants except in accordance with the provision of the law.

An order compelling the respondents to pay the sum of fifty million naira as compensation for the illegal arrest and detention and for such order or orders as the honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

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